All relationships require having rules of conduct. Sometimes these are very obvious and everyone just knows what they are. When we meet someone and they say their name and put their hand out, we know the rule that we should say our name and shake hands. However, sometimes a person needs to be told. You might get a job and be told that it is a rule that no one can interrupt each other in a conference room. In one relationship, being a little late might not be a problem, and therefore there is no rule. In another relationship, being late might be a problem, suggesting there be a rule about being on time.

For the post-separation coParenting relationship to work well, parents need to establish some basic rules of conduct. These usually include:

• Being courteous to each other (being on time, keeping each other informed, making requests in a respectful manner, and greeting each other cordially).

• Being honest with each other.

• Keeping agreements that are made.

• Refraining from name calling, yelling, swearing, criticizing, blaming and so on.

• Staying on topic, i.e. limiting the discussion to child-related or parenting issues.

• Respecting each other’s privacy.

• Making very clear and very explicit agreements – nailing down details.

Make a list of specific rules of conduct in addition to these that you will follow with each other. For example, if you might have some bad habits and have trouble staying on topic, come up with some ways that you can get back on topic if you get off. Make rules that will encourage you to work cooperatively with one another.
Like all relationships, this is a work in progress. If the other parent does something that discourages you from working cooperatively with them, consider introducing a new rule.

Protecting the coParenting relationship is protecting your children. People make relationships safe by having rules. We have now set goals, which serve as standards for future decisions, and we have also established rules of conduct, so that we both feel emotionally safe in our coParenting relationship. After all, children cannot feel safe in their family if the parents do not feel safe with one another.

Editor’s Note: This post is an edited excerpt from COPARENTING TRAINING WORKBOOK FOR SEPARATING AND SEPARATED PARENTS written by Kenneth H. Waldron, PhD and Allan R. Koritzinsky, Esq.

To purchase a copy of this book, please click here: